Cuisine Fiend

roast rib of beef with perfect gravy



Roast beef with trimmings

Whenever I have a proper roast beef with all the trimmings, puddings, potatoes, the full monty, I always think this surely defies all the naysayers who claim ‘British cuisine’ is an oxymoron and food is the pits in the UK. Clearly they’ve never tried top notch Sunday roast – especially beef.

What a glorious thing. Perfect invention for a Sunday, to stick a quarter of a cow into the oven and forget about it for the time it takes to get to church and back – or play a stint of World of Warcraft upstairs. It should be sizeable to feed whoever turns up for lunch, often willy-nilly, and the larger the better. Topside is nice and will cook evenly throughout, sirloin is a lot of people’s favourite but I’ll have rib on the bone any time. If you have a lot of gobs to feed you might want to try the full rib, on a standing bone – a good one for Christmas. Stunningly good, especially those bits on the bone that get left behind in the kitchen and after lunch I can pig on them pretending to be washing up already.

The trimmings – I’ve cooked traditional peas, carrots, broccoli plus perfect roast spuds and Yorkshire puddings. Those came out decidedly post-modern, having crawled out of the tins towards the oven door, seeking to escape – but were they delishhh. That was the trade-off: cook them in oil, they’ll rise like towers. Cook them in beef drippings, they’ll sprawl desperately but will be goddamn tasty.

Carrots were cooked with honey, butter and cinnamon – the best, and the gravy – oh the gravy. Makes you almost say – hold the beef, just gravy, please. Almost – not quite.

  • This will feed 6, or 4 with the next day dinner of cold beef salad sorted.
  • about 2kg wing rib of beef – which will be two rib bones, make sure there’s a layer of fat over it.
  • salt, pepper, mustard powder
  • one onion cut in half
  • For the gravy:
  • 1 tsp flour mixed with a little cold water
  • 1 tsp redcurrant jelly or cranberry sauce
  • 1 cup of beef stock or the water the potatoes were boiling in

Rib of beef

Preheat the oven to 240C/475F/gas 9. Rub the beef with salt, pepper and mustard. Place it in a roasting tin suited to later go on the hob to cook the gravy in. Prop the beef with two halves of the onion. Put it in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 190C/375F/gas 5 and roast for 15 minutes to a pound of beef for medium rare – in this instance another 70 minutes. The rib cooks differently in different places, the centre will be decidedly pink and the outside skirt cooked more, which makes for lovely variety.

After the required time take the meat out and place in a dish deep enough to catch the resting juices, cover loosely with foil and keep in a warm place for at least 20 minutes. If you’re roasting potatoes, they can go in 20 minutes before the end of beef cooking, then turn the heat up, place them on a higher shelf and finish roasting while the meat rests. They can be cooked in beef drippings – for that, drain the fat off the beef tray after the initial 20 minutes into the tray for spuds. It will make the gravy not so greasy and the potatoes tasty.

Alternatively, spoon most of the fat off the tray – into the puddings tray if you like to cook them in drippings, or just discard it altogether. Place the tray on the hob on low heat. Squash the onion into gravy with a fork. Bits of it will float about the grave so sieve it before serving if you’re a purist – but it gives the gravy unparalleled flavour. When it all starts bubbling, add the flour and mix well with a sauce whisk. Add the jelly or cranberry sauce, bring to the boil, add the stock and bubble until reduced to thicker than required consistency – the resting juices poured in will dilute it further.

The best gravy

  • For the Yorkshire puddings:

Mix well together equal volumes of egg, flour and milk (crack an egg or two into a measuring jug, then add the same volume of flour and then of milk). It can be prepared beforehand and rest in the fridge but not strictly necessary.

Place about a tablespoon of fat in each hollow of a pudding tray – from one egg you will get 8 puddings – and preheat in the oven when the beef is still cooking. When ready to make them, turn the heat up to maximum, carefully remove the tray from the oven and pour in the batter, it should sizzle and spit. Promptly put back in the oven and bake for 5 minutes, until risen, brown and crisp.

  • For the cinnamon carrots:
  • ½ kilo chanteney carrots or ordinary ones cut into chunks
  • a good knob of butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp honey
  • a squeeze of lemon
  • salt and pepper

Cinnamon carrots

Place the carrots in the pan with all the other ingredients and put on high heat. When they start sizzling vigorously, pour in some boiling water just to cover them. Cook on high heat until the water reduces completely – check if soft enough and add more water if they need cooking further, then reduce again.


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